Amayo, Cope elected as ASA’s 2019-2020 president, vice president

The Augustana Student Association (ASA) announced on April 9 that students elected junior Luca Amayo and Sophomore Audrey Cope as their next president and vice president respectively.

Based on ASA’s election results, Amayo and Cope won 65 percent of all votes cast. Runner ups junior Kirtana Krishna Kumar, running as president, and sophomore Hunter Lipinsky, running as vice president, clinched 20 percent of total votes. Junior Elizabeth Petersen, president, and junior Trey Waldrop, vice president, gathered 15 percent.

“We are grateful for the student body for its support,” Amayo said. “I feel like this is a validation of the changes we want to make, and we’re excited to get to work for the student body.”

In total, 771 students voted in the election, a 225-vote increase from ASA’s 2017 presidential election in which three campaigns ran. Voter turnout was significantly lower in the 2018 election because the current president and vice president, senior Anna Stritecky and graduate student Tyler Beck, ran uncontested.

Cope said while percentages and total votes obtained are important, representing the campus as a whole is more important.

“We are not here to represent a certain percentage of the student body,” Cope said. “We’re here to represent all.”

Stritecky said all candidates were highly qualified but two people had to win in the end. She recommended that Amayo and Cope take the summer to prepare and to delegate projects and tasks to senators when their incumbencies begin.

“There’s nothing I could have done this year without the 31 people that I have who come hang out with me every Monday night,” Stritecky said.

Amayo will become the first international student and person of color to assume the ASA presidency, Dean of Students Mark Blackburn said in an email.

Amayo said he has been thinking of these firsts since alumnus Kofi Gunu—who ran for vice president in 2016 but lost—encouraged him in a handwritten note to run for office.

“Now, the only way we make sure it is not just a symbol is if Audrey and I make this place better than when we found it, if Audrey and I make this place reflect all its parts,” Amayo said.

Krishna Kumar said she is proud to have participated in such a competitive election and that she is happy for Amayo and Cope.

“It’s a competition at the end of the day, so I was a little disappointed, of course, but I know that it’s in good hands,” Krishna Kumar said.

Krishna Kumar said next year she will continue to advocate for sustainability through her position on the sustainability committee but will take a step back from student government to focus on finishing out her senior year.

Petersen said the election was similar to the 2017 election in which “the greatest spender gets the most votes.”

“ASA presidential elections and elections, in general, are pretty lax as far as rules go, so I think there should be spending rules.”

Next year, Petersen said she plans to urge ASA to implement spending caps in elections to make ASA more accessible for students who may lack campaign funds. Currently, candidates do not have to report campaign expenditures.

Amayo and Cope said they will use their time in office to focus on three subjects: expanding opportunities, sustainability and increasing the campus’s diversity.

To address opportunities, they want to create a fund for students pursuing a small business or patent for an invention.

They will advocate for sustainability by implementing solar-powered outdoor tables, a project Amayo and senior senator Hatem Khalfaoui have been working on this academic year.

Amayo acknowledged students’ concerns about the feasibility of the tables because of South Dakota’s harsh weather but he said they are an inexpensive, practical step toward showing the campus the power of solar energy.

Additionally, Cope said they will encourage students and Sodexo to move away from single-use cups and non-biodegradable straws.

To promote diversity, they said they also wish to expand employment options for international students beyond just Sodexo.

Most international students are bound by their F1 visas to work on campus during their first academic year. The majority of student jobs offered on campus are funded by the federal government and are off-limits to international students, so most international students seek employment through Sodexo.

Overall, Amayo and Cope said they initially paired to help unify the campus. They said they will use their diverse backgrounds—Amayo from Nairobi, Kenya, and Cope from Rapid City, South Dakota—to help connect different groups on campus and improve discourse.

“I’ve seen our discourse degenerate in the time I’ve been here,” Amayo said. “So it was very important for us to create a model for something different.”

Junior Marissa Pacheco said she ultimately voted for Amayo and Cope because she believed they had a well-organized campaign. She said she appreciated their emails, their sidewalk chalk announcements, and their banner because it showed their work ethic.

Junior Sarah Anderson said she did not vote because she doesn’t pay attention to ASA and because she thinks it could do a better job at informing students what it does for the campus.

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